Water conservationists made their way through the city’s waterways and canals in kayaks to try to highlight litter pollution. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Water conservationists made their way through the city’s waterways and canals in kayaks to try to highlight litter pollution. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Peninsula Paddle postponed after Zandvlei pollution levels found to be too high

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Sep 13, 2021

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Cape Town - The Peninsula Paddle, which puts a spotlight on Cape Town’s polluted waterways, has been postponed for the first time in 11 years following the serious pollution of the Zandvlei.

The e-coli results which were recently released by the City (taken on August 23 at the Zandvlei) showed 430 000 cfu (colony forming unit per 100ml) in the vlei’s north surface area, 106 000 cfu opposite Imperial Yacht Club, 42 000 cfu opposite Playwaters, 86 000 cfu on the outlet channel, midway to mouth, and 44 000 cfu under Park Island Bridge.

The City considers measurements of e-coli between 2 501 and 4 000 cfu per 100ml as “tolerable risk for intermediate contact recreation”.

Kevin Winter, Peninsula Paddle founder and researcher at Future Water UCT, said they had hoped that the Zandvlei would be opened for this year’s paddle event but said water quality had to be top of their agenda in the campaign to “take back the waterways.”

“The pollution of the Zandvlei is serious, including the current state of the Black River. I can't take people through a water body that has been closed for recreation by the City. What will happen is that we always have to do the event when we have reasonably high rainfall so that we can paddle it, otherwise in summer time we can’t at all. It’s very likely that we will have to postpone until next year as we normally do this event in the first week of September,” said Winter.

Save the Zandvlei petitioner Charles Whaley said algae was starting to grow in the waters of Zandvlei again and unless the City was careful the vlei might experience a full algae bloom.

“It looks like the area where the highest figures are regularly recorded is in the Zandvlei north surface area, which is adjacent to the Sand River canal, and this is where my colleagues have recorded continuing sewage inflows for months and years, but to no avail. So what we have been complaining about seems to be confirmed by the figures,” he said.

Mayoral member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said water quality trends in Zandvlei were coming down steadily. She said sampling points results were still above the accepted limits, especially in the northern area.

Limberg said the City has a routine monthly sampling programme in place, but due to the pollution incidences the frequency has been increased to weekly ad hoc monitoring to assess if there were any improvements or a deterioration in water quality.

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Cape Argus

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